Turkish police arrested thirteen suspected members of Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) during a security operation in the cities of Istanbul, Ankara and Adana on January 13.
According to Anadolu Agency, some of the suspects traveled to Syria and fought with HTS, while others were involved in raising money for the terrorist group. One of the suspects was identified as Baskani Hasan Suslu’nun, a chairman of Fukara-der charity organization.
Turkish authorities are still looking for three other suspected members of the terrorist group who managed to avoid arrest.
The operation coincided with the deployment of additional Turkish troops and battle tanks along the border with the Syrian governorate of Idlib, which is controlled by HTS.
Turkey designated HTS, the former branch of al-Qaeda in Syria, as a terrorist organization under a presidential decision last August. The original name of the group “the al-Nusra Front” was placed on the Turkish terror list several years ago.
This security operation presents a major shift in Turkey’s policy towards the terrorist group, which has been operating on the country’s borders for years now. This shift was likely caused by the recent HTS attacks on Turkish-backed militants in Aleppo, Idlib, Hama and Lattakia.